Kao Ay, Workshop Trainer
“I am from Pouk District and I went to school in my village until Grade 7. But to go to secondary school I had to move away and stay with friends. But then those friends stopped study at Grade 9, and I worried that maybe I have to stop too. But I really wanted to try to continue. My family also wanted me to go to school but they didn’t have anything to support me. So after Grade 9 I moved to Siem Reap and stayed with Vannak (PLF’s workshop leader). She is from the same village as me and I knew her a long time. She took her niece to Siem Reap to study so I asked her how can I do the same? She said ‘ok you can come and stay with me’. My mum said ‘if you are confident enough to move to Siem Reap, you can go’. So I think ‘ok I will show her my strength!’. And I saw that my family, all my siblings, they cannot read and they cannot write so I wanted to help change my family because if we still like this, we are only the farmer. So I wanted to be the one who finish Grade 12 and show that if I study I can get a good job. And I knew this would encourage my niece and nephew to study too.
Kao Ay receiving her PLF uni scholarship
So I lived with Vannak and then when I reached Grade 11, I became a PLF student. At first they helped me to go to computer classes, and then I got a high school scholarship so that I could achieve my dream and finish Grade 12. And even more, after that I got a university scholarship to study TESOL.
When I started working at PLF in 2019 I was doing data entry part-time. They asked me what I wanted to do in my future and I said I like working with people and I love to share or kind of teach. I was always interested in that from when young. When I was in Grade 7 I opened a small English class for the kids in my village. At that time I didn’t know a lot of English – but what I had, I wanted to share.
So PLF ask me to work at the girls’ dorm as house mother. There I took care of the other girls, encourage them in their studies, correct their attitude and habits to become an independent person.
Kao Ay with the dorm students on a visit to Angkor Wat
I also started to do some work with the workshop team, help them prepare the room and organize the snacks. For me it was the first time I experience the workshop topics, it was all new for me and I was very interested especially about goal setting because at that time I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the future, I just wanted to try my best for study. So while I was working I was also learning at the same time, which help me think about my own future.
Vannak start to encourage me to lead workshops, and the first workshop I gave was nutrition for primary school students. For the first time I was nervous but Vannak pushed me a lot. I was very interested in that, and I wanted to improve my speaking and share what I know. And I liked to prepare the topic by myself. Now I also present workshops on Drugs & Alcohol, and Puberty.
Kao Ay giving workshops to primary students (above) and middle school students (below)
All the topics we teach are very important, and relate to the grade of students, for example they need to know about dangers of Drugs and Alcohol, because it can affect their health and also they will cut their education if they use them, so they need to know how to protect themselves. And for high school topics are very important because all related to their goals, so when they are in Grade 10 they can think about what they want to do in the future.
The biggest change I see in the students is when they come at first they very shy and they don’t want to speak in group discussion. But when we invite them again and again they become more confident to speak and to share what they have learned. I see they grow in confidence and become very proud of themselves. This really helps them for their futures. I feel so happy when I see that result!
For me, I have learned a lot about how to host the workshop, prepare lesson plans to make the topic interesting, and analyze data to check what they understand. When we teach them we can also learn new things from the students. I look forward to doing more topics in the future!
The best thing about my job is I can help the others. I don’t have money to give but what I can do is share my education or my experience and we can teach them to improve their ability and encourage them to go to school. I am happy that I can help them in the way that Vannak and PLF helped me when I was a student.
Kao Ay also recently assisted with parent workshops in Preah Vihear, showing her own growing confidence in answering questions from a larger and older audience
Education means – more we learn, more we can change our life. Because I am from farmer family, if no school I cannot change my life. After studying I can use my knowledge to find a good job, and also I can share what I know so the others can learn. If you want to change your life, you have to go to school.”
You can meet more of our amazing team and read their stories on the People of PLF page!
Want to assist PLF’s continuous growth, and help propel our organization ever forward? Your donation today will contribute to crucial sustainability for the future. Check out the link: Creating Our Dream Team!
Other ways to join our mission:
For as little as $10 a month, you could contribute to the ongoing education of our students. $120 goes a long way in Cambodia: that’s 5 village children on the road to education, with access to school and clean drinking water for half a year. Or a million other things, all of which coalesce into the tools needed for life to change for the better!
Have some questions?
Email us for a chat at [email protected]